" I want to make him nice," answered Clare, " and then
he'll be nice to look at. You mustn't mind him, please,
sir. He's a very little boy, and 'ain't been well brought
up. His granny ain't a good woman at least not very,
you know, Tommy ! " he added apologetically.
"She's a damned old sinner!" said Tommy stoutly.
The man laughed.
"Ha, ha, my chicken! you know a thing or two!" he
said, as he took his iron from the fire, and laid it again
on the anvil.
But besides the brother he would so gladly strangle, there
was an idiot one whom he had loved a little and teazed
so much, that, when he died, his conscience was moved.
He felt therefore a little tender toward the idiot before
him. He bethought himself also that his job would soon
be at a stage where the fewer the witnesses the better,
THE BLACKSMITH AND HIS FORGE. 133
for he was executing a commission for certain burglars
of his acquaintance. He would do no more that night!
He had money in his pocket, and he wanted a drink!
"Look here, cubs!" he said; if you 'ain't got nowhere
to go to, I don't mind if you sleep here. There ain't no
bed but the bed of the forge, nor no blankets but this
leather apron: you may have them, for you can't do them
no sort of harm. I don't mind neither if you put a shovelful
of slack and a little water now and then on the fire ; and
if you give it a blow or two with the bellows now and
then, you won't be stone-dead afore the mornin'! Don't
be too free with the coals, now, and don't set the shed on
fire, and take the bread out of my poor innocent mouth.
Mind what I tell you, and be good boys."
" Thank you, sir," said Clare. " I thought you would
be kind to us! I've one friend, a bull, that's very good
to me. So is Jonathan. He's a horse. The bull's name
is Nimrod. He wants to gore always, but he's never
cross with me."
The blacksmith burst into a roar of laughter at the
idiotic speech. Then he covered the fire with coal, threw
his apron over Clare's head, and departed, locking the
door of the smithy behind him.
The boys looked at each other. Neither spoke. Tommy
turned to the bellows, and began to blow.
"Ain't you warm yet?" said Clare, who had seen his
mother careful over the coals.
" No, I ain't. I want a blaze."
" Leave the fire alone. The coal is the smith's, and he
told us not to waste it."
" He ain't no count ! " said Tommy, as heartless as any
grown man or woman set on pleasure.
134 A ROUGH SHAKING.
" He has given us a place to be warm and sleep in! It
would be a shame to do anything he didn't like. Have
you no conscience, Tommy?"
" No," said Tommy, who did not know conscience from
copper. The germ of it no doubt lay in the God-part
of him, but it lay deep. Tommy no worse than many
a boy born of better parents was like a hill full of
precious stones, that grows nothing but a few little dry
shrubs, and shoots out cold sharp rocks every here and
"If you have no conscience," answered Clare, "one
must serve for both as far as it will reach ! Leave go
of that bellows, or I'll make you."
Tommy let the lever go, turned his back, and wandered,
in such dudgeon as he was capable of, to the other side of
"Hello!" he cried, "here's a door! and it ain't locked,
it's only bolted! Let's go and see!"
" You may if you like," answered Clare, " but if you
touch anything of the blacksmith's, I'll be down on you."
" All right ! " said Tommy, and went out to see if there
was anything to be picked up.
Clare got on the stone hearth of the forge, and lay
down in the hot ashes, too far gone with hunger to care
for the clothes that were almost beyond caring for. He
was soon fast asleep; and warmth and sleep would do
nearly as much for him as food.
TOMMY RECONNOITRES. 135
, out in the moonlight, found himself in a
J_ waste yard, scattered over with bits of iron, mostly
old and rusty. It was not an interesting place, for it
was not likely to afford him anything to eat. Yet, with
the instinct of the human animal, he went shifting and
prying and nosing about everywhere. Presently he
heard a curious sound, which he recognized as made by
a hen. More stealthily yet he went creeping hither and
thither, feeling here and feeling there, in the hope of lay-
ing his hand on the fowl asleep. Urged by his natural
impulse to forage, he had forgotten Clare's warning. His
hand did find her, and had it been his grandmother
instead of Clare in the smithy, he would at once have
broken the bird's neck before she could cry out; but with
the touch of her feathers came the thought of Clare, and
by this time he understood that what Clare said, Clare
He had some knowledge of fowls; he had heard too
much talk about them at his grandmother's not to know
something of their habits ; and finding she sat so still, he
concluded that under her might be eggs. To his de-
light it was so. The hen belonged to a house at some
distance, and had wandered from it, in obedience to the
secretive instinct of animal maternity, strong in some
hens, to seek a hidden shelter for her offspring. This she
had found in the smith's yard, beneath the mould-board
of a plough that had lain there for years. Slipping his
136 A ROUGH SHAKING.
hand under her, Tommy found five eggs. In greedy
haste he took them, every one.
I must do him the justice to say that his first impulse
was to dart with them to Clare. But before he had
taken a step toward him, again he remembered his threat
With the eggs inside him, he could run the risk; he
would not mind a few blows not much; but if he took
them to Clare, the unbearable thing was, that he would
assuredly give every one of them back to the hen. He
was an idiot, and Tommy was there to look after him;
but, in looking after Clare, was Tommy to neglect him-
self? If Clare would not eat the eggs Tommy carried
him, as most certainly he would not, the best thing was
for Tommy to eat them himself! What a good thing
that it was no use to steal for Clare! The steal would
be all for himself! Not a step from the spot did Tommy
move till he had sucked every one of the five eggs. But
he made one mistake: he threw away the shells.
When he had sucked them, he found himself much
lighter-hearted, but, alas, nearly as hungry as before!
The spirit of research began again to move him: where
were eggs, what might there not be beside?
The moon was nearly at the full ; the smith's yard was
radiantly illuminated. But even the moon could lend little
enchantment to a scene where nothing was visible but
rusty, broken, deserted, despairful pieces of old iron.
Tommy lifted his eyes and looked further.
The enclosure was of small extent, bounded on one side
by the garden wall of the house they had just passed, and
at the bottom by a broken fence, dividing it from a piece
of waste land that probably belonged to the house. As
he roamed about, Tommy spied a great heap of old iron
TOMMY RECONNOITRES. 137
piled up against the wall, and made for it, in the hope
of enlarging his horizon. He scrambled to the top, and
looked over. His gaze fell right into a big but, full of
dark water. Twice that evening he met the same horror!
There was a legendary report, though he had not heard
it, I fancy, that his mother drowned herself instead of
him: she fell in, and he was fished out. Whether this
was the origin of his fear or not, so far from getting down
by means of the water-but, Tommy dared not cross at
that point. With much trembling he got on the top
of the wall, turned his back on the but, and ran along
like a cat, in search of a place where he could descend
into the garden. He went right to the end, round the
corner, and half-way along the bottom before he found
one. There he came to a doorway that had been solidly
walled up on the outside, while the door was left in
position on the inside ready for use when the court of
chancery should have decided to whom the house be-
longed. Its frame was flush with the wall, so that its
bolts and lock afforded Tommy foothold enough to de-
scend, and confidence of being able to get up again.
He landed in a moonlit wilderness such a wilderness
as a deserted garden speedily becomes, the wealth in the
soil converting it the sooner to a savage chaos. Full of
the impulse of discovery, and the hope of presenting him-
self with importance to Clare as the bringer of good tid-
ings, Tommy forced his way through or crept under the
overgrown bushes, until he reached a mossy rather than
gravelly walk, where it was more easy to advance. It
led him to the house.
Had he been a boy of any imagination, he would have
shuddered at the thought of attempting an entrance.
138 A ROUGH SHAKING.
All the windows had outside shutters. Those of the
ground floor were closed except one that swung to and
fro, and must have swung in many a wind since the house
was abandoned. The moon shone with a dull whitish
gleam on the dusty windows of the first and second
stories, and on the great dormers that shot out from the
slope of the roof, and cast strange shadows upon it. The
door to the garden had had a porch of trellis-work, over
which jasmine and other creeping plants were trained;
but whether anything of the porch was left, no one could
have told in that thicket of creepers, interlaced and
matted by antagonist forces of wind and growth so that
not a hint of door was visible. Clearly there was no-
Tommy sought the window with the open shutter.
Through the dirty glass, and the reflection of the moon,
he could see nothing. He tried the sash, but could not
stir it. He went round the corner to one end of the
house, and saw another door. But an enemy stepped
between: the moon shone suddenly up from the ground.
In a hollow of the pavement had gathered a pool from
the drip of the neglected gutters, and out of its hidden
depth the staring round looked at him. It was the
third time Tommy's nerves had been shaken that night,
and he could stand no more. At the awful vision he
turned and fled, fell, and rose and fled again. It was
not imagination in Tommy; it was an undefined, inex-
plicable horror, that must have had a cause, but could
have no reason. Young as he was he had already more
than once looked on the face of death, and had felt no
awe; he had listened to the gruesomest of tales, told not
altogether without art, and had never moved a hair.
TOMMY RECONNOITRES. 139
Only one material and two spiritual things had power
with him; the one material thing was hunger, the two
spiritual things were a feeble love for Clare, and a strong
horror of water of any seeming depth. Now a new ele-
ment was added to this terror by the meddling of the
moon in the fiendish mystery the secret of which must,
I think, have been the bottomless depth she gave the
He rushed down the garden. With frightful hin-
drance from the overgrowth, he found the prisoned door
by strange perversion become a ladder, gained by it
the top of the wall, and sped along as if pursued by
an incarnate dread. Horror of horrors! all at once the
moon again looked up at him from below : he was within
a yard or two of the big water-but! Right up to it he must
go, for, close to it, on the other side of the wall, was the
heap of iron by which alone he could get down. He
tightened every nerve for the effort. He assured himself
that the thing would be over in a moment; that the
water was quiet, and could not follow him ; that presently
he would find himself in the smithy by the warm forge-
fire. The scaring necessity was, that he must stoop
and kneel right over the water-but, in order to send his
legs in advance down the wall to the top of the mound.
It was a moment of agony. That very moment, with
an appalling unearthly cry, something dark, something
hideous, something of inconceivable ghastliness, as it
seemed to Tommy, sprang right out of the water into the
air. He tumbled from the wall among the iron, and
The stolen eggs were avenged. The hen, feverish and
unhappy from the loss of her hope of progeny, had gone
140 A ROUGH SHAKING.
to the but to sip a little water. Tommy, appearing on
the wall above her, startled her. She, flying up with a
screech, startled Tommy, and became her own unwitting
TOMMY IS FOUND AJtfD FOUND OUT.
WHEN Clare woke from his first sleep, which he did
within an hour for he was too hungry to sleep
straight on, and the door, imperfectly closed by Tommy,
had come open, and let in a cold wind with the moonlight
he raised himself on his elbow, and peered from his
stone shelf into the dreary hut. He could not at once
tell where he was, but when he remembered, his first
thought was Tommy. He looked about for him. Tommy
was nowhere. Then he saw the open door, and remem-
bered he had gone out. Surely it was time he had come
back ! Stiff and sore, he turned on his longitudinal axis,
crept down from the forge, and went out shivering to look
for his imp. The moon shone radiant on the rusty iron,
and the glamour of her light rendered not a few of its
shapes and fragments suggestive of cruel torture. Pick-
ing his way among spikes and corners and edges, he
walked about the hideous wilderness searching for
Tommy, afraid to call for fear of attracting attention.
The hen too was walking about, disconsolate, but she took
no notice of him, neither did the sight of her give him
any hint or rouse in him the least suspicion: how could
he suspect one so innocent and troubled for the avenging
genius through whom Tommy's white face lay upturned
TOMMY IS FOUND AND FOUND OUT. 141
to the white moon! Her egg-shells lay scattered, each a
ghastly point in the moonshine, each a silent witness to
the deed that had been done. Tommy scattered and for-
got them; the moon gathered and noted them. But they
told Clare nothing, either of Tommy's behaviour or of
He came at last to the heap of metal, and there lay
Tommy, caught in its skeleton protrusions. A shiver
went through him when he saw the pallid face, and the
dark streak of blood across it. He concluded that in
trying to get over the wall he had failed and fallen back.
He climbed and took him in his arms. Tommy was no
weight for Clare, weak with hunger as he was, to carry
to the smithy. He laid him on the hearth, near the fire,
and began to blow it up. The roaring of the wind in the
fire did not wake him. Clare went on blowing. The
heat rose and rose, and brought the boy to himself at
last, in no comfortable condition. He opened his eyes,
scrambled to his feet, and stared wildly around him.
" Where is it?" he cried.
"Where's what?" rejoined Clare, leaving the bellows,
and taking a hold of him lest he should fall off.
" The head that flew out of the water-but," answered
Tommy with a shddder.
"Have you lost your senses, Tommy?" remonstrated
Clare. "I found you lying on a heap of old iron against
the wall, with the moon shining on you."
" Yes, yes! the moon' She jumped out of the water-
but, and got a hold of me as I was getting down. I knew
" I didn't think you were such a fool, Tommy ! " said
142 A ROUGH SHAKING.
" Well, you hadn't the pluck to go yourself! You stopt
in! " cried Tommy, putting his hand to his head, but more
sorely hurt that an idiot should call him a fool.
" Come and let me see, Tommy," said Clare.
He wanted to find out if he was much hurt; but Tommy
thought he wanted to go to the water-but, and screamed.
"Hold your tongue, you little idiot!" cried Clare.
" You'll have all the world coming after us! They'll think
I'm murdering you ! "
Tommy restrained himself, and gradually recovering,
told Clare what he had discovered, but not what he had
"There's something yellow on your jacket! What is
it?" said Clare. "I do believe yes, it is! you've been
eating an egg! Now I remember! I saw egg-shells,
more than two or three, lying in the yard, and the poor
hen walking about looking for her eggs ! You little rascal !
You pig of a boy! I won't thrash you this time, because
you've fetched your own thrashing. But ! "
He finished the sentence by shaking his fist in Tommy's
face, and looking as black at him as he was able.
" I do believe it was the hen herself that frighted you!"
he added. " She served you right, you thief!"
"I didn't know there was any harm," said Tommy,
pretending to sob.
" Why didn't you bring me my share, then ? "
" 'Cos I knowed you'd ha' made me give 'em back to
"And you didn't know there was any harm, you lying
"No, I didn't."
"Now, look here, Tommy' If you don't mind what I
THE SMITH IN A RAGE. 143
tell you, you and I part company. One of us two must
be master, and I will, or you must tramp. Do you hear
"I can't do without wictuals!" whimpered Tommy.
" I didn't come wi' you a purpose to be starved to death!"
"I dare say you didn't; but when I starve, you must
starve too; and when I eat, you shall have the first mouth-
ful. What did you come with me for? "
" 'Acos you was the strongest," answered Tommy, " an'
I reckoned you would get things from coves we met! "
" Well, I'm not going to get things from coves we meet,
except they give them to me. But have patience, Tommy,
and I'll get you all you can eat. You must give me time,
you know! I 'ain't got work yet! Come here. Lie down
close to me, and we'll go to sleep."
The urchin obeyed, pillowed his head on Clare's chest,
and went fast asleep.
Clare slept too after a while, but the necessities of his
relation to Tommy were fast making a man of him.
THE SMITH IN A RAGE.
had not slept long, when they were roused by a
J_ hideous clamour and rattling at the door, and thun-
derous blows on the wooden sides of the shed. Clare
woke first, and rubbed his eyelids, whose hinges were
rusted with sleep. He was utterly perplexed with the
uproar and romage. The cabin seemed enveloped in a
hurricane of kicks, and the air was in a tumult of howl-
144 A ROUGH SHAKING.
ing and brawling, of threats and curses, whose inarticu-
lateness made them sound bestial. There never came
pause long enough for Clare to answer that they were
locked in, and that the smith must have the key in his
pocket. But when Tommy came to himself, which he
generally did the instant he woke, but not so quickly
this time because of his fall, he understood at once.
" It's the blacksmith ! He's roaring drunk ! " he said.
"Let's be off, Clare! The devil 'ill be to pay when he
gets in! He'll murder us in our beds!"
" We ought to let him into his own house if we can,"
replied Clare, rising and going to the door. It was well
for him that he found no way of opening it, for every
instant there came a kick against it that threatened to
throw it from lock and hinges at once. He protested his
inability, but the madman thought he was refusing to
admit him, and went into a tenfold fury, calling the boys
hideous names, and swearing he would set the shed on
fire if they did not open at once. The boys shouted, but
the man had no sense to listen with, and began such a
furious battery on the door, with his whole person for a
ram, that Tommy made for the rear, and Clare followed
prudent enough, however, in all his haste, to close the
back-door behind them.
Tommy was in front, and led the way to the bottom
of the yard, and over the fence into the waste ground,
hoping to find some point in that quarter where he could
mount the wall. He could not face the water-but with
the moon in it, staring out of the immensity of the lower
world. He ran and doubled and spied, but could find no
foothold. Least of all was ascent possible at the spot
where the door stood on the other side; the bricks were
THE SMITH IN A RAGE. 145
smoother than elsewhere. He turned the corner and ran
along a narrow lane, Clare still following, for he thought
Tommy knew what he was about; but Tommy could find
no encouragement to attempt scaling the wall. They
might have fled into the fields that lay around; but the
burrowing instinct was strong, and the deserted house
drew them. Then Clare, finding Tommy at fault, be-
thought him that the little rascal had got up by the heap
on which he discovered him, and must be afraid to go that
way again. He faced about and ran, in his turn become
leader. Tommy wheeled also, and followed, but with
misgiving. When they reached the farther corner of the
bottom wall, they stopped and peeped round before they
would turn it: they might run against the blacksmith in
chase of them! But the sound of his continued hammer-
ing at the door came to them, and they went on. They
crossed the fence and ran again, ran faster, for now every
step brought them nearer to their danger: the heap of
iron lay between them and the smithy, and any moment
the smith might burst into the shed, rush through, and
be out upon them.
They reached the heap. Clare sprang up ; and Tommy,
urged on the one side by the fear of the drunken smith,
and drawn on the other by the dread of being abandoned
by Clare, climbed shuddering after him.
"Mind the water-but, Clare!" he gasped; "an' gi' me
a hand up."
Clare had already turned on the top of the wall to help
"Now let me go first!" said Tommy, the moment he
had his foot on it. " I know how to get down."
He scudded along the wall, glad to have Clare between
146 A ROUGH SHAKING.
him and the but. Clare followed swiftly. He was not
so quick on the cat-promenade as Tommy, but he had a
good head, and was spurred by the apprehension of being
seen up there in the moonlight.
Fa few moments they were safe in the thicket at the
foot of what had been their enemy and was now
their friend the garden-wall. How many things and
persons there are whose other sides are altogether friendly!
These are their true selves, and we must be true to get at
Tommy again took the lead, though with a fresh sink-
ing of the heart because of that other place with the moon
in it. Through the tangled thicket they made or found
their way and there stood the house, with the moon
looking down on its roof, and the drunkard's thunder
troubling her still pale light her moon-thinking. But
for the noise and the haste, Clare would have been
frightened at them. There seemed some secret between
the house and the moon which they were determined no
one else should share. They were of one mind to terrify
man or boy who should attempt to cross the threshold!
There was no time, however, to heed such fancies. " If
we could only get in without spoiling anything! " thought
Clare. Once in, they would hurt nothing, take but the
shelter and rest lying there of no good to anybody, and
TREASURE TROVE. 147
leave them there all the same when they had done with
While they stood looking at the house, the thundering
at the door of the smithy ceased. Presently they heard
voices in altercation. One voice was that of the smith,
quieter than when last they heard it, but ill-tempered
and growling as at first. The other seemed that of a
woman. She had been able so far to quiet him, probably,
that he remembered he had the key in his pocket; for
they thought they heard the door of the smithy open.
Then all was silent, and the outcasts pursued their quest
of an entrance to the house.
Clare went ferreting as Tommy had done. He also
tried to get a peep through the window with the swing-
ing shutter, but had no better success than Tommy. Then
he started to go round the corner next the blacksmith's
" Look out! " cried Tommy in a loud whisper, when he
saw where he was going.
"Why? "asked Clare.
" Because there's a horrible hole there, full of water,"
" I'll keep a look out," returned Clare, and went.
When he was about half-way along the end of the
house, he heard a noise he did not understand, and stopped
to listen. Some one seemed moving somewhere.
Then came a kind of scrambling sound, and presently
the noise of a great watery splash. Clare shivered from
head to foot.
"Something has fallen into the hole Tommy men-
tioned ! " he said to himself, and ran on to see. A few
steps brought hinrto what Tommy had taken for a great
148 A ROUGH SHAKING.
hole. It was nothing but a pool of rain-water: the splash
could not have come from that! ,
Then it occurred to him that the water-but could not
be far off. He forced his way through shrubs of various
kinds, and reaching the wall, went back along it until he
came to the but. A ray of moonlight showed him that
the side of it was wet, as if the water had lately come